College Int'l Pro

Is Ned Crotty The Best Lacrosse Player In The World Right Now?

Ned Crotty Rochester Rattlers Brine Lacrosse
He's also Brine's BIGGEST name, by far.

Winning an MLL scoring title doesn’t make you the best lacrosse player in the world automatically, but a very strong argument can be made that this year’s winner, Ned Crotty, is the best lacrosse player in the world, at least right now.  Let’s examine this assertion, and see if Sir Nedwick Crotty VII is truly the best our game has to offer.

By now, we all know Crotty finished with 50 points to Paul Rabil’s 49 and Brendan Mundorf’s 45.  It was a down to the wire finish, and the title was decided in the last game of the season.  Originally, the MLL’s point tracker (Pointstreak) said Rabil had won, but they went to the tape, and in the end, it was Crotty who won the title.  Ned did it with one more game than Rabil, and one more game than Mundorf (12 games versus 11), and as opposed to Rabil (who is a middie), Crotty is an attackman.  So yes, there are differences between the players, and how they scored their points, so we’ll have to go deeper than just looking at who put up the most points.  We need to look at HOW they did it, and what that meant for their respective teams.

Ned Crotty Rochester Rattlers Brine Lacrosse

He's also Brine's BIGGEST name, by far.

Photo courtesy Brine.com

Paul Rabil is the most obvious choice for top player in the game right now.  He dominates lacrosse media and sponsorships, and is the defacto face of the MLL.  He’s even a big name in the NLL, where he plays as more of a transition player, simply because of who he is.  He is Paul Rabil, and you’ve all heard him roar.  But PR99 also plays for the Boston Cannons, and they are simply a LOADED team right now.  They have initiators, shooters, finishers and everything else.  Ryan Boyle, Max Quinzani, Matt Poskay, Kevin Buchanan and Brad Ross make a formidable offense without Rabil, so when you add him into the mix, the Cannons O is extremely strong.  I’m not trying to take anything away from Rabil here, but he certainly plays for a team that has a lot of options.

Brendan Mundorf was, in my eyes, the best dodging attackman in the game for the past 2 years.  His sense of timing, his ability and willingness to go HARD to the cage and his fearlessness all made him extremely dangerous.  His skill and ability to dodge lefty by right-handed defenders was beyond impressive.  And he hasn’t lost a step.  He’s still one of the best in the game.  But like Rabil, Mundorf is also surrounded with talent when he plays for the Denver Outlaws.  Guys like Max Seibald. Drew Westervelt, Peet Poillon, Billy Bitter and Bill McGlone surround Mundorf, and if those names don’t take some of the pressure off of Mundorf, I don’t know what would.

Is the supporting cast out in Denver and in Boston helpful to Rabil and Mundorf?  Undoubtedly.  And while it’s not the only factor for them scoring as much as they do, it certainly helps.  Now when you look at the Rochester Rattlers, you don’t get quite the same impression.  The six players (including Rabil) on the Cannons are all in the top 17 scorers of the MLL.  They also have 3 players in the top 8.  The six players on Denver are all in top 36 of MLL scorers, which isn’t that impressive, but they do have 3 in top 20, and the depth of Denver’s scoring is well balanced as guys like Connor Martin, Brian Langtry and Terry Kimener are basically after thoughts.

Rochester, on the other hand, has only two players in the top 20 for scoring, and besides Crotty, their top scorer is Matt Striebel with 25 points out of the midfield.  He ranks 18th in the league, and that makes for a big gap in scoring punch.  While Rochester does have 6 players in the top 31 (a little better than Denver), they are mostly towards the bottom of that list, and many are first, or second year Pros.  These guys are not the experienced, battle-tested Pros that play in Denver or Boston.  They are recent college grads, and even though they have been dropped into starting roles, the evolution of many of these guys as players is far from complete.

So yes, Crotty played one more game than Rabil or Mundorf, but he also did so on a far less talented team.  That’s just reality.  But Crotty beating Rabil by a single point, and then saying that makes Crotty the best, is still pretty meaningless, even if the playing field was completely level.  So what am I saying here?  I like Crotty’s style of play the best.  I like what he brings to the table the most.  He can do it all, does so with a flair and at times, just makes people look silly.  Both Rabil and Mundorf can do similar things, but with Rabil it’s usually a show of brawn and power, whereas with Mundorf it’s more of a hard dodge where he forces his defender to commit one way or the other.

Crotty, to me, is just a little bit different, and in my eyes, just a little bit better.  He makes players around him better, electrifies the crowd, and is always the focal point of the opposing defense.  Big, hacky players, like Jack Reid of the Boston Cannons struggle to defend him mightily, and I don’t know if there is a better example than the 1:08 mark of the recent Lax.com video featuring the Rattlers and the Cannons.  As Reid winds up for one of his patented slap slashes, Crotty just dices him up, and play like this is exactly what the MLL needs, and what a player needs to be successful in the league.  Crotty finishes the play with a one-handed wrap shot as he moves away from the cage.  The Cannons tried to counter this by putting the fleet-footed PT Ricci on Crotty, and even he struggled a little to keep up.  Crotty definitely has the quicks.

But he’s not just a dodger, and if the slide had been on point, you can guarantee that Crotty would have found the open man.  He did so 21 times during the regular season, and as he is often initiating from X, you know a lot of these weren’t just catch and pass or “move the ball along” assists.  Crotty created, and made his teammates better.

While I would say that RIGHT NOW, at this very moment, Ned Crotty is the best player in the world, I can certainly see why people would argue with that assessment.  His team finished 2-10 in the MLL.  He didn’t run away with the scoring title.  Maybe he got to take more reps than the other guys BECAUSE he was the best player on his team, and commanded the attention.  But as 412 pointed out, Rabil took more shots than Crotty did.  Crotty had a better SOG%, and a better scoring percentage when shots did go on goal.  BY A LOT.  And without him, I seriously doubt that Rochester would have won even one game.  In the two games they did win, he went 4 (2,2) and 6 (4,2), while his season average was 4.17 points per game.  He had a 7 point game, and never put up less than 2 points, and that only happened once.  He scored 3 points or fewer only 4 times.  Ned Crotty was dominant, and he was consistently so.  Rabil was a little more erratic with more 7 and 2 point games, while Mundorf was even more erratic putting up 10 points in the first game of the season, and then putting up 1, 1, and zero points in other games.

I’ll take consistent awesomeness over jumpy, and at times, hyper production any day.  The latter make headlines, the former win Championships.  Ok, that was a total generalization, but the choice of “best player” is pretty personal and biased, so everyone has to make certain assumptions.  I’ve just told you one of my big ones.  Consistency is key.  And this is really my lower-level basis for selecting Crotty as top dog.  He just shows up.  All the time.  And by him “just showing up”, I mean that he dominates.

Ned Crotty has perfored at every level of field lacrosse.  He was the best in college.  The Tewaaraton and Duke’s first ever National Title in Men’s Lacrosse are proof of that on paper.  If you saw him play in college, you have all the proof you would ever need stowed away in your memory.  Remember when he played for Team USA in Manchester in 2010?  He scored the game typing goal against Canada, and the eventual game winner to win Gold for the US.  He scored 13 points to finish 4th on US team behind Mundorf, a Leveille and a Powell.  Rabil was huge in the World Games as well for the US, but Crotty certainly made some noise, and the important thing is that they won it all as a team.  And Crotty fit seamlessly in with this group, as the youngest player to boot.

Ned Crotty Duke Lacrosse Brine

Crotty at Duke... dominating.

Photo courtesy MllFans

I would not have written this post last season.  Crotty’s 2010 MLL season was certainly good, especially for a rookie, but it wasn’t clear that he was going to adapt to the MLL.  Well after this year, any doubt whatsoever has been removed from the equation.  He has proved he is a force to be reckoned with, and should be a HUGE boost to Team USA in 2014 in Denver.

I don’t like to jump to conclusions, and I’ve thought about this for a while.  With certainty, I can call Ned Crotty the best field lacrosse player in the world right now.  And while I can see why others would disagree, or why they would say it’s too early to say this, or ask why I didn’t talk about box lacrosse players (we’ll save that for another day!) I actually think it just became true, or at least arguable.  But from watching him play, I’d say it’s just the truth.

About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of LacrosseAllStars.com. He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.

30 Comments

  • Comparing an attackman’s shot percentage to an on the run midfielder gunning at over 100 mph is erroneous. When it comes to best all around player in lacrosse saying anyone other than Paul Rabil is, simply put, blasphemous. There’s a reason he gets all the attention he does. Crotty is probably the best attackman in the MLL right now sure, but keep in mind he’s shooting from 5 yards away most of the time, making his chances of scoring/ hitting the net that much higher. Also Rabil has this other responsibility on his plate called defense, something Crotty would know nothing about. They play very different games, and in a 1v1 Rabil vs. Crotty to 10, I’d be shocked if Crotty could pull out more than 4 goals. That’s just my opinion, and I still feel the comparison is apples to oranges. I prefer to just appreciate them both for their contributions to the game.

  • Well to be fair, PR doesn’t HAVE to shoot over 100mph.  I kid, I kid.

    Some good points to be sure.  It’s hard to compare an attackman to a middie. very true.  But I don’t think calling Crotty the best is blasphemous.  Far from it.

    Rabil plays some D, but not a ton.  Matt Casey, Greg Downing and others get most of those runs.  But Crotty rides hard too.  So he does play some defense. Not that much less than Rabes probably.
    PR99 vs NC22 in a one on one game to Ten?  10-10 tie into perpetuity.  But a one on one tell us nothing, since lax is a team game.

    I appreciate them both as well, and there is no way this argument is settled.  But we’re each entitled to our beliefe!

  • Some great points for sure, and I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. Great players make their teams better, which they both clearly do, but Rabil just wins everywhere he goes, and after he (hopefully one day) wins the MLL title, he’ll have every team and individual accomplishment you could ever ask for. His work ethic and athletic ability just set him apart in my mind, and though blasphemous was probably a little bit of a stretch, I just don’t see many GMs saying they’d take Crotty over Rabil in a draft, though again it’s close. I love Crotty, probably even more than I do Rabil, I just think the choice is an impossible one to make haha.

    And about the 1v1 comment, I was just trying to make my point that individually they’re on different levels, and the defensive aspect would set them apart, along with the size, athleticism, and power aspect. Great discussion topic though nonetheless.

  • Would have to go with Rabil here simply for his overall effect on any game.  What we don’t see in the stat column is the # of offensive possession he initiates, how many 2nd assists he gets, how many slides he draws (2nd to none in the league). 

    It was apparent on the OT goal against Rochester this week, even though he would have had the 3rd assist in that sequence.

  • If we are talking best in the world, I’d have to say it’s a tie between him and Mundorf. They both came up big in the FIL World Championships, and they both are great in the MLL. To me, I think they’re pretty underrated. I’m comparing it to Paul Rabil though. I don’t think Paul’s overrated, but he certainly does get a lot of hype. I’m just sayin’. Overall, though, Crotty is certainly ONE of the best players in the world. 

  • Haha I was seriously just writing an article about this for InLax with the same argument… oh well I guess i will just link to this :)

  • I do feel like Crotty does much of the same.  I think Rabil just has better pieces around him.
    Rabil is a beast though, and most people’s defacto number 1 baller.

  • yeah I mean you can build a team around Rabil for sure.  No question there.  But I think you can NOW do the same for Crotty.  It’s been true of Rabil for a couple years, and Crotty is only a bit younger.  But Crotty has won everywhere he has been too, and won quite a few awards himself.  I guess I just wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss him as a potential #1.  But I see why you say Rabil.  It’s a very strong argument.

  • Mundorf is what you imagine in an attackman but at the same time so Crotty, and they both produce. I guess the only edge mundorf has on Crotty is his wins, but like you said he has tons of help, but Mundorf and Crotty are tied to me, I honestly think Rabil comes in 3rd to them. I love Rabil and wear the same number and he’s doing more for the game than mundorf and crotty spreading the sport through all those things but when it actually comes down to gameplay i’m stuck between Crotty and Mundorf at attack, but I honestly don’t want to categorize Rabil with them because midfield is so different from attackman, and hands down no other middie can touch him. I’d really like to go more in depth of who’s better between Mundorf and Crotty, and until someone can compete with Rabil from the midfield THEN have a Rabil and (Competitor)  arguement. I have never thought and probably never will think that it’s fair to compare a Midfielder (split playing-time) to an Attackman (who’s on the field ready to score and dish at all times). Maybe that’s just the Midfielder in me, but That’s what I think. Mundorf vs Crotty and set aside Rabil vs THE WORLD!

  • The best player in ANY sport is pure opinion. I listen to the sports radio jockeys all day. You can throw stats all you want but it is still based on opinion. The best Lacrosse player in the world is who ‘”you” think it is. I have my own favs but I will not post them since I don’t feel like getting into a semantics argument.

  •  I actually see the high-level of talent on the Cannons as a hindrance to Rabil’s overall scoring because there are so many offensive weapons whereas Crotty is the only major offensive contributor on the Rattlers. Crotty has nearly 33% of the rattlers top 6 scorers points whereas Rabil has less than 25% of the cannon’s top 6. I think if rabil was the major source of scoring on his team that he would actually score more goals.

  • Great job Connor on some very valid points.. but I think it’s hard to justify naming a best in the game who is solely an offensive player.  We see it in every sport, with the quaterback, the power hitting 3B, shooting guard and playmaking center in hockey, they always get all the accolades, because they put up the points, and in our society, scoring is king.  But not to mention a Brodie Merrill (4G, 1 2ptG, 12 A, 17Pts, 77GB) or a two way middie like Matt Abott (8G, 2A, 10Pts, 53GB), doesn’t give a fair balance to the arguement.  Abott had more GB’s then everyone not named Merrill and Joel White (who will be mentioned in a couple years in this arguement).  Rabil had 14GB’s.  Even a Stephen Berger (22G, 5A, 27Pts, 30GB’s) should be thrown at least a mention.  I’m not disagreeing with you, I just think it’s unfair to only mention or compare Rabil and Crotty. 

  • best defensive player: merrill

    best offensive: dan dawson

    it’s almost insulting when lacrosse publications give field players credit for vision, shooting, stick skills or pretty much anything other than athleticism

    box players >>>>>>>> field players in terms of stick skills, passing, shooting, vision, IQ

    the ONLY edge field players have is foot speed

    you see all the old timers flood laxpower’s forum wishing they could go back to the glory days of mt washington and team toyota clubs and resenting pro lacrosse.

    those club teams always were just the dumping groud for 90% of college players that weren’t skilled enough to play pro box.

    crotty deserves no props for his skills until he proves them playing pro box. Until then, he is just a fast guy. He is not a great lacrosse player. He hasn’t proven it against the best in the world.

  • fair enough!  I’m like the internet equivalent of a radio jockey I guess.  I’ll take it?

  • I would agree with you on some of your points quite strongly.
    Box players, on average, have much better hands, IQ shooting, etc than field players.  But I’m talking about field lacrosse right now, and not box.  I probably didn’t make the clear enough until my last paragraph, which you may have skipped after taking this post as an insult.

    Brodie Merrill should have been in the conversation.  A big miss on my part.  But Dawson? It’s hard to include a guy in the best field player conversation if I don’t get to see him play much field.  Like I said, the “best box lacrosse player” conversation will be had another day.

    I actually think the games are very different, and it would be even harder to crown a “best at both” King, but maybe I’ll give that a shot!  Appreciate the comment!

    Team Canada is made up of box players.  And Crotty scored two goals (to tie and win the game) in Manchester in the Finals. So he has done “it” at least once against the best in the world.  And your #1 Dguy, Merrill, just happens to play on that team.

    I’d love to see him play box though.  It would take him time to adjust, but then you could see just how good his stick and actually are.  I would liken his career to Casey Powell’s, where he took some time, and then became one of the best players in the league.

    It’s hard for people to take your comment seriously though when you disparage the field game so strongly.  I want more field fans to get into box lacrosse, but that won’t happen when box diehards discount the field game.  To call all box players thugs isn’t fair.  To say all field players are just a fast pair of wheels is equally unfair.

  • sure, more guys could definitely be brought into the conversation, and I tended to go the way I did for a couple of reasons:
    1) all three of these guys were the catalysts for their teams, and all had truly excellent seasons.
    2) Rabil is the somehow annointed King of field lax right now, I simply had to explain why I was off the train, so a focus on him was natural.  It was only natural for me to also give Mundorf a look as well.
    3) Merrill was a miss.  He should always be included in the “best lax player” conversation.
    4) I love a player that can do it all.  If there were a guy who could face off, play d, win GBs, dominate on O, and sweat pure excellence, then I would have gone for him.  But I liked Crotty’s play above all others, so I had to focus on the O players to justify him.  Comparing a D player or GB machine would have been almost impossible… the roles are just SO different.

    So yeah, it’s not perfect by any count.  And most of the goalies in the world are probably steaming that I didn’t mention (insert favorite goalie here).  Same thing with box fans.  But Crotty is my most dominant player at what he does, so he was my choice.

  • I can see that argument, but hear me out…
    Rabil LOVES to initiate with dodges.  When he gets a defensive player on his heels, he is at his happiest, and most dangerous.
    Every team in the MLL KNOWS this, and if Rabil had a weaker supporting cast, they would slide to him harder and faster.  But they simply can’t.  Because the weapons around him are that good.  So teams can’t help out, and this frees Rabil up.
    If he had a worse team, and dodged MORE than he does now (which is still a lot!), and the other team could focus on him much more as the primary threat, do you think he’d actually score more goals?  To me, that becomes predictable.  And in lacrosse, when you get predictable, you usually lose.  Would love to hear your thoughts KM181!  Thanks for the comment!

  • Actually, I believe you are correct. I didn’t really take into consideration the playing styles of both of the players. Rabil liking to try and over-power/burn past people with his superior skill whereas Crotty seems to like to take more advantage of defensive mistakes. This does create the problem of the defenders always knowing they will need to slide to Rabil and if he doesn’t have supporting stars passing won’t be as effective. I guess the only way to know is a straight up trade, Rabil for Crotty (Sarcasm i know that will never happen…). Also, thanks a lot for writing this article. It has been one of my favorites by far!

  • thank YOU for such a good initial comment and then keeping the conversation going!

    Interacting with readers in the comments is one of my favorite things to do.  It keeps me honest, forces me to look at my view points, and it always challenges me.  Much appreciated!

  • Thanks to you too! I truly used to think that these comments weren’t read by the authors but now i know they are and I’ll be posting a lot more often.

  • I’ve read, and reread, and though I do feel that Crotty is one of the superstars of the MLL… let’s not forget that the title of “Best in the World” shouldn’t just be tagged to those in the MLL….

    Mikey Powell, though out of the league can still be linked to this conversation, just because the stigma of MP is just that awesome. 

    You know that I’m biased to Kyle Harrison, and though the LXMPRO is a totally different environment then the MLL the players are still very good. 

    I could go on and give valid points on Mundorf, Rabil, and even why Hartzell and Chazz Woodson could take these honors… but at the end of the day I’m consistent…

    My vote is for Kyle Harrison.  There is a reason why he’s STX’s pitchman, has more Nike kicks then most basketball players, and travels around the States and the World more then most MLL players. 

    BUT in a poll recently conducted… my teammate Dan Gnazzo might even get a vote or two.

  • Seems like now the argument has shifted quite a bit. Which award means more? Most points or most valuable player? To me it seems simple, but also have to accomodate for the potential bias of the league towards Rabil given his popularity and how much revenue he brings in. The debate continues haha

  • I am FED UP with this talk about Rabil being the best. “He brings so much to the sport,” “He is growing the game more than anyone else,” and my personal LEAST favorite “Best player to ever live”. Ned Crotty, Max Seibald, and Brendan Mundorf are the best players at the moment. Gary Gait is the best of all-time. I don’t care how much “flow” Paul Rabil has, It has no impact on the performance on the player. Rabil has top guns surrounding him in Boston. Ned Crotty has no one, yet he puts up amazing numbers every game! 

    NED CROTTY 2012

  • Crotty is the best in field right now, but analyst and the MLL will never say that. Rabil is their biggest feature, their money maker. Crotty could only help their cause if a Crotty/Rabil debate started up like the Kobe/Lebrun debate and Crosby/ Ovechkin debate. That would be good for the league because everybody loves to argue and make their opinion heard.

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